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Top, Non-touristy Volunteer Experiences in Australia

Planning a trip to Australia? Want to make the most out of your stay in Sydney? Interested in giving back to the community that you will call home for a few weeks, or maybe even months? Make volunteering a part of your journey and enhance your experience of Australia and its residents!

Why should you volunteer on your holiday?

Volunteer in Australia - Food Outreach

1. It makes it more memorable: our holidays are often filled with museums, beaches, bars and burgers, but can you genuinely recall what made your last holiday special? Was it another heritage building or cute animal at the zoo? I’ll be honest, after a while they all become a blur and if your holiday consists of just ‘seeing’ and not ‘doing’ then there is little to distinguish between cities and sometimes even countries. By volunteering, you are guaranteeing yourself a memorable experience.

2. You’ll meet locals: sounds funny right, but if your trip is a constant transfer between hostel/hotel and tourist trap, then your most significant interaction with a local may be with the taxi driver. When you volunteer, you work directly with the locals, learning about their culture and language, which is especially true at community aid projects.

3. You’ll see places that you may not have otherwise seen: as mentioned, the accommodation to tourist trap route leaves little to the imagination, and many merely create a checklist of places to see, that locals have never even ventured into. If you want to see the ‘real Australia’ then it’s time to get your hands a little dirty and join the rest of the Aussies in their day to day life.

4. You’ll contribute to the community: travelling is a privilege whereby a community accepts us as their own and allows us to learn from it, yet so often we take advantage of it and just take, take, take! This is your opportunity to give back to your host country in more ways than just tourist dollars.

5. You’ll go home feeling good: let’s be honest, doing good makes us feel good. It also makes us put on fewer pounds (looking at you cruise ship vacations)! Our lives are often so busy that we don’t have the opportunity to volunteer when we’re at home, so doing it when abroad is a great time to indulge in gaining some extra karma points.

Where can you volunteer in Australia?

Australia is about as diverse a country as they get when it comes to environments, animals, cultures and, thus, volunteer opportunities. You can take your pick at volunteering at an animal sanctuary or two, assist with marine conservation in the Great Barrier Reef or contribute to the conservation of the Australian environment.

These are all excellent and popular choices, but have you considered becoming a food outreach volunteer in Sydney? Probably not, most people forget about this option, and unfortunately the many homeless people that rely on and benefit from such programs.

So here it is, an official invitation for you to volunteer at one of the most humbling, rewarding and non-touristy experiences that you can have on your next trip to Australia.

Volunteer in Australia - Food Outreach

A few homelessness in Sydney statistics for you to consider (based on a survey conducted in 2015 of 516 people, by the City of Sydney)

60% of the participants were sleeping rough, i.e. shelterless on the streets
49% of people had reported experiencing emotional, physical, psychological, sexual or other abuse before becoming homeless
34% committed self-harm while being homeless
34% had been in foster care
8% were veterans, previously members of the Australian Defence Force, including two participants who were under the age of 25

Poverty in Australia

Volunteer in Australia - Food Outreach

Unfortunately, it is not only the homeless that are experiencing a shortage of food in Australia. The privilege of living in Australia comes at a price with the cost of food, housing, transportation and other essentials rising every year. Sudden illness, being laid off work and a surprise bill, can cause anyone to find themselves in a severe financial situation, where they require assistance.

With over 2 million Australians living in poverty, of which half are children, and 1 out of 4 pensioners living in or close to poverty, one place that there is certainly no shortage of opportunities to help. This especially hits home when charities report that every month they are turning away almost 60,00 Australians seeking food.

How can you add a volunteer experience to your next trip to Sydney?

Volunteer in Australia - Food Outreach

GoEco has partnered with several local organizations that aim to relieve the food crisis that is hitting Sydney streets. From collecting resources at food banks to working alongside other volunteer teams, you will participate in the preparation of food as well as it’s distribution.

Offering the meals that you prepared to those in need is where you really get a nice tug on your heartstrings as you see people from all different walks of life, genders, races and attitudes, gratefully accepting your gift.

What may shock you to see is the humble shyness that many of these people display. Some will only accept milk in their cup of coffee when offered, saying “yeh, go on”, like they are treating themselves to something special. Others sheepishly ask if the chocolate bars on offer are available to them.

Ironically, as you volunteer with the homeless and needy, you will see the opposite of the ‘take, take, take’ culture that we are so used to, and instead you will be both witness to and a participant of the ‘give, give, give’ movement.

The great thing about this project is that you will also have plenty of time to explore Sydney and do everything that you wanted to do during your time there. The aim of the project is not to take away from your dream Australian holiday, but rather add to it.

If you are ready to see Australia in a way that so few people do, click here for more information and get ready for a life-changing experience, both for you and for everyone that you will inevitably come in contact with during your volunteer trip abroad.